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The Last of the Barons — Volume 02 by Baron Edward Bulwer Lytton Lytton
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BOOK II.

THE KING'S COURT.




CHAPTER I.

EARL WARWICK THE KING-MAKER.

The young men entered the Strand, which, thanks to the profits of a
toll-bar, was a passable road for equestrians, studded towards the
river, as we have before observed, with stately and half-fortified
mansions; while on the opposite side, here and there, were straggling
houses of a humbler kind,--the mediaeval villas of merchant and trader
(for, from the earliest period since the Conquest, the Londoners had
delight in such retreats), surrounded with blossoming orchards, [On
all sides, without the suburbs, are the citizens' gardens and
orchards, etc.--FITZSTEPHEN.] and adorned in front with the fleur-de-
lis, emblem of the vain victories of renowned Agincourt. But by far
the greater portion of the road northward stretched, unbuilt upon,
towards a fair chain of fields and meadows, refreshed by many brooks,
"turning water-mills with a pleasant noise." High rose, on the
thoroughfare, the famous Cross, at which "the Judges Itinerant whilome
sate, without London." [Stowe.] There, hallowed and solitary, stood
the inn for the penitent pilgrims, who sought "the murmuring runnels"
of St. Clement's healing well; for in this neighbourhood, even from
the age of the Roman, springs of crystal wave and salubrious virtue
received the homage of credulous disease. Through the gloomy arches